Tag Archives: Vasa

Peter’s Auction Picks of the Day: March 1st

Hard Edge Redux


Vasa Mihich has somehow always eluded me as to his proper place in the spectrum of California Art.  I think that because he is Yugoslavian this fact made it difficult for me to include him with the other post-war artists working in California.

In this sale, however, there is a piece that immediately made it clear to me that Vasa is indeed one of the great American sculptures of our time.  Not only was he included in the landmark show at LACMA in 1967, titled “American Sculpture of the 60s”, but he also exhibited painted sculptures at the Feigen-Palmer Gallery in the same period.  In fact, the first work that Vasa ever sold is being offered in our auction (Lot 143, estimated at $6,000-8,000) and was exhibited in this gallery in 1965.  “Crimson, Yellow and Green” is a dynamic and colorful tower with thin vertical stripes accentuating the height and a sloping pyramidal base that tends to reinforce its monumentality.

When I first observed this sculpture it reminded me of the painted towers and leaning planks by John McCracken and even resembles the simple yet powerful compositions of John McLaughlin.

It was at that moment that I realized that Vasa was carving a niche for himself using the vocabulary of the ‘California Hard Edge’ painters.  Now when I see his tall luminous sculptures in acrylic, for which he is more commonly known, it is easier for me to associate him with this group.

Lot #145 really is a California Hard Edge painting in acrylic!

Lot Information

Lot 143
Vasa (Mihich)
Crimson, Yellow, and Green (Tower)
1965
Painted wood construction
Studio
Signed and dates under base with Feigen Palmer Gallery label
55.5″h x 16.5″ x 16.5″
Estimate $6,000 – 8,000

Lot 145
Vasa (Mihich)
Untitled (#2963)
1990
Acrylic
Signed and dated
With stand 92″h x 18″ x 14″
Estimate $5,000 – 7,000

Just in: Vasa Painted Construction

“Crimson, Yellow and Green” (Tower) by Vasa Mihich, more commonly known as Vasa, is according to the artist the first piece he ever sold, which was quite meaningful to the artist as he said, “When I sold this piece it meant that I could eat.”

After immigrating to the United States in 1960, ultimately moving to Los Angeles, Vasa immersed himself in the major changes art was facing and began building three-dimensional painted constructions.  In 1966 these works were first shown at the Feigen-Palmer Gallery in Los Angeles and the same year displayed at LACMA in an exhibit titled “American Sculptures of the Sixties”.  It was only until 1967 when Vasa began using plastic in his constructions.

Vasa is most well-known for employing acrylic in his sculptures, however, his early painted wood constructions show strong parallels to the Hard-edge painters in California, who were painting compositions marked by geometric shapes and abrupt transitions of color as a reaction to the gestural, more painterly style of the Abstract Expressionists.

“Crimson, Yellow and Green” (Tower)  from 1965 shares similar elements with the works of Vasa’s contemporaries: John McCracken and John McLaughlin, who both used vertical blocks of color in their compositions to obtain the totally abstract.

Lot Information

Vasa
“Crimson, Yellow and Green” (Tower)
Painted wood construction
1965
Retains Feigen-Palmer Gallery label verso
Signed and dated verso
March 6, 2011 Auction
Estimate $6,000 – 8,000